Japan, officially Nippon (日本) is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea and Russia. The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun".
Japan comprises over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano. Japan has the world's tenth largest population, with about 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.
Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Since adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet.
A major economic power, Japan has the world's third largest economy by nominal GDP. It is a member of the United Nations, G8, G4, OECD and APEC, with the world's fifth largest defense budget. It is also the world's fourth largest exporter and sixth largest importer and a world leader in technology and machinery.
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is the Japanese word for fox
. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore
. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical
abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form
. While some folktales speak of kitsune
employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—others portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives. Foxes and human beings lived in close proximity in ancient Japan
; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune
have become closely associated with Inari
, a Shinto kami
or spirit, and serve as his messengers. This role has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune
has—they may have as many as nine—the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings
to them as to a deity. It is widely agreed that many fox myths in Japan can be traced to China
, or India
. Chinese folk tales tell of fox spirits
that may have up to nine tails. Many of the earliest surviving stories are recorded in the Konjaku Monogatari
, an 11th-century collection of Chinese, Indian, and Japanese narratives. There is debate whether the kitsune
myths originated entirely from foreign sources or are in part an indigenous Japanese concept dating as far back as the fifth century BC.
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was an Italian photographer
based in Yokohama
. Following a brief military career, including service in the American Civil War
, he became a successful entrepreneur
and commercial photographer. His photographic work was highly regarded, particularly his hand-coloured
portraits and landscapes, which he sold mostly to foreign residents and visitors to the country. Farsari's images were widely distributed, presented or mentioned in books and periodicals, and sometimes recreated by artists in other media; they shaped foreign perceptions of the people and places of Japan and to some degree affected how Japanese saw themselves and their country. His studio
—the last notable foreign-owned studio in Japan—was one of the country's largest and most prolific commercial photographic firms. Largely due to Farsari's exacting technical standards and his entrepreneurial abilities it had a significant influence on the development of photography in Japan.
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Did you know... -
- ... that Japanese anime director Rintaro has worked in animation for 50 years and co-founded the animation studio Madhouse?
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Coordinates: 36°30′N 139°00′E / 36.5°N 139°E